There’s one last thing I should cover in this chapter: how to quit R. When I say this, I’m not trying to imply that R is some kind of pathological addition and that you need to call the R QuitLine or wear patches to control the cravings (although you certainly might argue that there’s something seriously pathological about being addicted to R). I just mean how to exit the program. Assuming you’re running R in the usual way (i.e., through RStudio or the default GUI on a Windows or Mac computer), then you can just shut down the application in the normal way. However, R also has a function, called
q() that you can use to quit, which is pretty handy if you’re running R in a terminal window.
Regardless of what method you use to quit R, when you do so for the first time R will probably ask you if you want to save the “workspace image”. We’ll talk a lot more about loading and saving data in Section 4.5, but I figured we’d better quickly cover this now otherwise you’re going to get annoyed when you close R at the end of the chapter. If you’re using RStudio, you’ll see a dialog box that looks like the one shown in Figure 3.5. If you’re using a text based interface you’ll see this:
q() ## Save workspace image? [y/n/c]:
y/n/c part here is short for “yes / no / cancel”. Type
y if you want to save,
n if you don’t, and
c if you’ve changed your mind and you don’t want to quit after all.
What does this actually mean? What’s going on is that R wants to know if you want to save all those variables that you’ve been creating, so that you can use them later. This sounds like a great idea, so it’s really tempting to type
y or click the “Save” button. To be honest though, I very rarely do this, and it kind of annoys me a little bit… what R is really asking is if you want it to store these variables in a “default” data file, which it will automatically reload for you next time you open R. And quite frankly, if I’d wanted to save the variables, then I’d have already saved them before trying to quit. Not only that, I’d have saved them to a location of my choice, so that I can find it again later. So I personally never bother with this.
In fact, every time I install R on a new machine one of the first things I do is change the settings so that it never asks me again. You can do this in RStudio really easily: use the menu system to find the RStudio option; the dialog box that comes up will give you an option to tell R never to whine about this again (see Figure 3.6. On a Mac, you can open this window by going to the “RStudio” menu and selecting “Preferences”. On a Windows machine you go to the “Tools” menu and select “Global Options”. Under the “General” tab you’ll see an option that reads “Save workspace to .Rdata on exit”. By default this is set to “ask”. If you want R to stop asking, change it to “never”.